As you will have read in my last few posts we, my wife Stef, our seven cats and two dogs, have moved to Co Mayo in sunny Ireland! The move was a story in itself, but suffice to say although the animals all travelled well, it is not a trip we would want to repeat in a hurry!
Having kept the cats indoors for ten days, we were more than a little concerned that once we opened the door and let them into the damp Irish air (and it has been damp!) they would make a beeline back towards Spain. But the good news is they seem to love it here and have settled in well.
Khan, loving his new home in Ireland
So now I have to decide what I want to concentrate on involving animal welfare in the future. Whilst WTFAW has been great, it does not provide the hands on approach I have been used to for most of my life.
One thing my Mother was very keen on, was the interaction between animals and children with special needs. She started The Elisabeth Svendsen Trust for Children and Donkeys which over the last twenty plus years has helped thousands of children all over the UK and in Northern Ireland. I believe that the benefit is mutual as donkeys are intelligent creatures and love to be kept occupied. I was personally involved in setting up the first projects in the UK and later in Spain and Italy. I can say from experience, that the benefits to both human and animal are significant. My most memorable moment was when we made our very first visit to a school in Spain and a little girl with cerebral palsy’s face lit up as she stroked her donkey, and how she laughed out loud with pleasure as he freed her from the confines of her wheelchair. Her carer’s said they had never seen her laugh like that before. Donkeys can also bring great joy to the older generation. So many people who have lived most of their lives in the country miss contact with animals when confined to a home, and a visit from a friendly donkey will often bring back happy memories.
Having set up and run The Donkey Sanctuary in Ireland, I know that neither they or the other welfare organisations in Ireland can cope with the number of donkeys and horses who are suffering terrible hardship at the moment. Whilst our small plot of land can not provide a solution to the problems facing equines in Ireland, we may help to get the message out that donkeys and other “pets” are not just for amusement or sport, but can make a real difference to the lives of people, and deserve to be treated with respect.
I am considering starting an animal assisted therapy project here in Ireland involving rescued donkeys, people with special needs and residents in old people homes. For the moment I will keep WTFAW active and post everything from the new project here.
I would be really interested in hearing your thoughts on this.
Here are a few before pictures of the facilities. As you will see, there is a bit of work to do!
Plenty of buildings, but lots of work required to get them ready.
This stable may need a clean first!
lots of grass, but some fencing required?
At least we can grow some vegetables to keep us going!